Our History


We have proudly served our community with empathy and compassion for 128 years and Six Generations.


  • John Staples, was a carpenter.
  • He was hired to build a casket for a local family. He was also the local gravedigger.
  • He met a traveling medicine man who sold him embalming chemicals and instructed him in their use.
  • Thus, becoming the first mortician in the family. That was in the 1880’s

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In this picture from 1905, is John Staples (in back), the first generation of Morticians. In those days, funerals were held at the family’s homesteads. There were no “funeral parlors.” This would be the future funeral home, which was built by his father-in-law, Isaac Eaton.


John Staples daughter, Jennie, married Hiram Edwin Hayes, who also became a licensed Funeral Director / Mortician. “Ed” and Jennie began the original “Hayes Funeral Home” in a room in the family’s home.

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Ed and Jennie had 3 girls and boys. Malcom, Allen and John all attended Funeral Directing School in Boston, becoming the Third Generation.

Their youngest daughter, Elizabeth, and a local farmer named Harvey Johnson, were wed in 1932. They also lived in her family’s home, assisting in the business.

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Harvey and Elizabeth assumed control of the business in 1953, changing the name. In 1960, their youngest son, David, graduated Embalming School after twelve months, the sixth family member to attend New England Institute in Boston. David helped with a major expansion to the Funeral Home as well as with running the Johnson Ambulance Service.


  • While Harvey and Elizbeth were still active in the business, David became the head director. Two of David’s children, Michael and Melissa, assumed the roles of their grandparents but as licensed Funeral Attendants.
  • Michael’s son, Michael Jr., graduated New England Institute at Mound Ida 2002, thus making the business Six Generations.

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David Hayes Johnson, Michael Johnson, Sr., Michael Johnson, Jr., Harvey Johnson

Melissa Johnson Pierce, Elizabeth Hayes Johnson

Sadly, in 2005, David, died suddenly and unexpectedly at 64. Within the next year, both of his grief-stricken parents, Harvey and Elizabeth, passed away as well. They were 95.

Michael Johnson, Jr. assumed the role of head funeral director accompanied by his aunt, Melissa Johnson Pierce as an apprentice.Michael Jr. opened the Great Works Crematory located a short distance from the funeral home in 2009. Melissa graduated AAMI, American Academy McAllister Institute of NYC in 2010. In 2013, she took over the reigns of the funeral home to allow Michael more time with the Crematory and Monument companies.

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  • We are a family owned and operated business serving North Berwick and all of the surrounding communities for 6 generations since 1880.
  • We offer full service funeral, memorial and cremation services as well as transfers in or out state. Pre-planning and aftercare services also.
  • We pride ourselves on our commitment and personal service to all of our families.
  • We are the second oldest business in North Berwick. The oldest is Hussey Manufacturing.
  • Michael Johnson, Jr. owns and operates Johnson Monument Company, allowing our clients the ease and personal service of choosing an appropriate monument, bench or stone to memorialize their loved ones. He is also the superintendent of the cemeteries in North Berwick.
  • Michael Johnson, Jr. owns and operates the Great Works Crematory located just 2 miles from the funeral home which allows our family to follow through the entire process with dignity.

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